Impaired encoding of rapid pitch information underlies perception and memory deficits in congenital amusia
2016
Sci Rep
6:18861
Authors: 
Albouy P
Cousineau M
Caclin A
Tillmann B
Peretz I

Recent theories suggest that the basis of neurodevelopmental auditory disorders such as dyslexia or specific language impairment might be a low-level sensory dysfunction. In the present study we test this hypothesis in congenital amusia, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe deficits in the processing of pitch-based material. We manipulated the temporal characteristics of auditory stimuli and investigated the influence of the time given to encode pitch information on participants' performance in discrimination and short-term memory. Our results show that amusics' performance in such tasks scales with the duration available to encode acoustic information. This suggests that in auditory neuro-developmental disorders, abnormalities in early steps of the auditory processing can underlie the high-level deficits (here musical disabilities). Observing that the slowing down of temporal dynamics improves amusics' pitch abilities allows considering this approach as a potential tool for remediation in developmental auditory disorders.